Reclaim Space After Windows 10 Upgrade

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If you upgraded your Surface (or any Windows computer) from 8.1 to 10, you may be able to easily reclaim an additional 5 to 8 GB of precious space on your hard drive.”

How? – you might ask.

By deleting the (now useless) Windows 8.1 recovery partition left behind when you upgraded.

Even if you followed the steps in my article on Deleting the Windows.old Folder After Upgrading to Windows 10, the Windows 8.1 recovery partition may still be present on your Surface. This is because the disk cleanup tool only cleaned the C:\ drive and the recovery partition is in a whole different (mostly hidden) volume.

Reclaim Space After Windows 10 Upgrade: Is It Present On My Surface?

The only way you won’t have the old recovery partition present is if you Surface before the upgrade. If you want to check to see if that’s the case, just follow the steps below:

  • Make sure you’re logged in with administrator rights.
  • Search for Disk Management and select Create and Format Hard Disk Partitions from the results.
  • Once the Disk Management tool starts, check to see if there’s a volume without a drive letter assigned named Recovery Partition. It should be between 5 and 8GB in size (though it may be slightly bigger/smaller). Here’s an example from my Surface 3 below.

Reclaim Space After Windows 10 Upgrade Disk Manager

If the volume is on your Surface, the procedure below will let you reclaim the space. If it’s not there, then you must have already removed the recovery partition prior to the upgrade.

Reclaim Space After Windows 10 Upgrade: How To Remove It.

To reclaim the space used by the Windows 8.1 recovery partition on a Surface, just follow these steps:

  • Log in with an Administrator account.
  • Use the steps in this article to create a Windows 10 Recovery Drive: Create a Windows 10 Recovery Drive
  • When you get to the last step of the Recovery Drive creation process, Don’t Select Finish. Instead, select the option to Remove the Recovery Partition.

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  • At the next screen, tap or click Delete.

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  • You should get a window like the one below. Tap or click Finish to close the window and end the process.

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If you want to double-check that the space has been recovered, you can start Drive Manager again. The old Recovery Partition volume should be gone and the System volume should be a bit bigger as in the example below:

Reclaim Space After Windows 10 Upgrade 4

Reclaim Space After Windows 10 Upgrade: Merge the New Volume

Sometimes (usually on a Surface Pro 1/2/3) the merge process doesn’t happen and instead of the extra space being added to your System volume automatically, an additional volume is created. This volume will be labelled “New Volume” and will be assigned the next available drive letter.

If this happens to you, don’t worry, it’s pretty simple to add it to the system volume. Unfortunately, the built-in tools can’t make the required change so, we’ll be using  the free version of Partition Assistant from AOMEI to make the change.

WARNING: By trying this procedure there is a risk that you could make your Surface unusable if the partitions get messed up so, try this at your own risk!!! Also, for the sake of your sanity, make sure you have a backup before you try this.

Here’s how to do it:

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  • Once the Volume is deleted, you should have some Unallocated space as shown below.

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  • Start the Partition Assistant tool then tap and hold (right-click) on the System drive and select Merge Partitions from the menu

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  • Select both the System drive and Unallocated space and ensure the target location is C:\Windows then select OK.

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  • You’ll get a Pending Operations window, select Proceed.

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  • Next, there will be a warning,  select Yes.

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Your Surface will restart and will run in a “pre-boot” mode. During this time, you’ll see white lettering on a black background. Once it’s finished, your Surface will restart normally and the extra space will be added to your System volume.

One Last Note: If you can’t see or select the unallocated space during the merge partitions process, just use the tool to create a new volume and then merge it with the System drive using the same instructions.


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